Frank Lampard is unsure if the season pause will help or hinder our quest to secure a Champions League place for next season, but what he does know is that his message to the players will remain the same over the coming weeks.

Chelsea have nine league games remaining and currently hold a two-point advantage over Manchester United in fifth place, with today’s trip to Aston Villa offering us an opportunity to extend that lead before the midweek round of fixtures.

Assessing his team’s prospects of reaching the top four, Lampard expects there to be twists and turns ahead, but his underlying principles have not been altered by the three-month hiatus.

‘It’s going to be very tough,’ stressed the boss, who turned 42 yesterday.

‘You want every point that’s on the table. There are a lot of tough games in our run-in. It’s a battle. We will have to take the games as they come, remain focused on ourselves and not look around too much.

‘If we can be focused on ourselves and get the right results it will look after itself. We have teams that are behind us and around with a lot of quality that are pushing for the same reasons as us. It’ll be tough but we will do our best.’

Our last matches before lockdown were convincing victories over Liverpool and Everton, arguably our best two home performances this term. Then came lockdown and the opportunity to gather further momentum was lost, but Lampard is not sure if the pause, along with the contract situations of Willian and Pedro, will make a major difference to the rest of the season.

‘We were in good form, and we had a couple of really good results going into lockdown which made me happy at least, we could hold those good thoughts,’ noted Lampard.

‘But I don’t want to judge from these 10 games - I’m including the FA Cup - whether lockdown will have been good or bad for us; I just want to see what’s in front of us and tackle it in a really positive way. We can all reflect at the end of that.

‘It will have been a tough season for all clubs in different ways. Us being fourth when people didn’t expect us to be there, and now after lockdown people do expect us to be there and stay there, that’s an added pressure to us. We have to try and rise to that.’